Gripper legacy of Robotics

Nowadays robotic part handling and assembling is done with grippers. If surface conditions offer, electromagnets and vacuum suction can also be used, for example in handling automobile windshields and body panels. As part sizes start to exceed the order of 100gms, a gripper’s jaws are custom shaped to ensure a secure hold. As the durable of handling mainstay and assembly, these tools have changed little since the beginning of robotics three decades ago. Grippers acts as simple pincers, have two or three unarticulated fingers, called “jaw”. Well organized catalog are available from manufacturers that guide the integrator or customer in tally various gripper components (except naturally for the custom jaw shape) to the task and part parameters.

The sizes of Payload range from grams for tiny pneumatic grippers to 100+ kilograms for massive hydraulic grippers. Typically the power source is hydraulic or pneumatic with simple on/off valve control switching between full-open and full-close states. The jaws usually move 1cm from full-open to full-close. The hand has two or three fingers, called “jaws”. The jaw part that connects the target part is made of a removable and machinably soft steel or aluminum, called a “soft jaw”. According to the unique circumstances, an expert tool designer determines the custom shapes to be machined into the rectangular soft-jaw pieces, The soft-jaw sets are attached to their respective gripper bodies and tested once machined to shape. This process can bring any number of iterations and adjustments until the system works properly. Tool designers redo the entire process each time a new shape is introduced. As consumers demand more variety of product choices and ever more frequent product introductions, the need for flexible automation has never been greater. However, the robotics industry over the past few years has followed the example of the automatic tool exchange technique used to exchange CNCmill cutting tools rather than make grippers more versatile.

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